Lizzie and Frances are nearly identical twins in "A Spanish Lover," by Joanna Trollope. Lizzie and her husband have a business, four children, and a beautiful home. Frances, on the other hand, is unmarried and seems to be drifting along without a sense of direction.
Frances at last decides to step out of her sister's shadow and become her own person. She starts a travel business, which becomes a great success, and she begins an unconventional love affair with a married Spaniard. Meanwhile, Lizzie and Richard suffer serious financial setbacks that threaten their comfortable lifestyle. Lizzie, who has always been self-satisfied and even-tempered, cannot help but be jealous and resentful of her twin's financial and emotional independence.
Joanna Trollope is a contemporary Jane Austen. With a keen eye, she examines how time, economic circumstances, and romantic entanglements can upset the delicate balance of a relationship. She also explores the theme of whether we should try to please our families or ourselves. Trollope shows how making life-altering decisions can involve some serious tradeoffs. As one character in the book aptly states, "There is no change without sacrifice."
The author's writing flows naturally and her language is lyrical and beautifully descriptive. The characters are vividly portrayed and the dialogue is humorous, poignant, and insightful. I highly recommend "A Spanish Lover" for its rich detail and its penetrating look at contemporary family life.